The Long Deployment

Love letter to a husband deployed overseas, feat. a VO by The Newsroom and AHS: Freak Show‘s Grace Gummer.

The Long Deployment

For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet
     and pillow. I lift a blanket to my face.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet,
     like sandalwood left sitting in the heat
or cardamom rubbed on a piece of lace.
     For weeks, I breathe his body. In the sheet
I smell anise, the musk that we secrete
     with longing, leather and moss. I find a trace
of bitter incense paired with something sweet.  
     Am I imagining the wet scent of peat
and cedar, oud, impossible to erase?
     For weeks, I breathe his body in the sheet—
crushed pepper—although perhaps discreet,
     difficult for someone else to place.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.
     With each deployment I become an aesthete
of smoke and oak. Patchouli fills the space
     for weeks. I breathe his body in the sheet
until he starts to fade, made incomplete,
     a bottle almost empty in its case.
There’s bitter incense paired with something sweet.
     And then he’s gone. Not even the conceit
of him remains, not the resinous base.
     For weeks, I breathed his body in the sheet.
He was bitter incense paired with something sweet.
 
Jehanne Dubrow

 


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Poem ©2013 Jehanne Dubrow, all rights reserved. Used by permission of the author and publisher The Academy of American Poets “Poem-a-Day” Series. Film ©2015 Motionpoems, Inc., all rights reserved.

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